15 May 2013

Thousands in New Caledonia join general strike

7:18 pm on 15 May 2013

Thousands of people in New Caledonia have taken to the streets to protest against the high cost of living.

In the capital, Noumea, an estimated 7,000 people joined a general strike and marched to the territorial Congress, the French High Commission and the seat of government.

Walter Zweifel reports.

"Five unions are behind the action, which is aimed at the territory's politicians, accusing them of failing to enact reforms agreed to since the last mass protest two years ago. They want to continue their protest by next targetting supermarkets, banks and petrol stations for allegedly charging excessive margins. The mainly Kanak USTKE union has distanced itself from the general strike, saying it is part of a pre-election political campaign by the Caledonian Union, which is led by former president, Philippe Gomes. It says the unions on strike ignore that immigration has been the source of the problems as it contributes to the high cost of living and unemployment among Kanaks."